Impressions: Sony's MDR-1000X

One of many headphones in the "wireless, over-ear, noise-cancelling" category, I just received the Sony MDR-1000X on the day that I'm writing this. I've spent the last few hours with them, and although much more exhaustive testing will be conducted and called for, they've been very fun thus far.

These have a very full feature set, and I'll touch briefly on it here. From the outset, these feel very premium. Although I am fully aware that initial units had an (evidently) awful creaking issue, these do not, as I believe that Sony has purposefully remedied that issue, and presumably, the cracking that came with it. I haven't heard any sound aside from what the headphones are producing when these have been on my head.

The synthetic leather ear-pads are very comfortable, and exactly as small as I think that they could be to be this comfortable. I don't foresee any long-term wear comfort issues, but I'll have a definite answer to that question in the full review. The earcups are covered in synthetic leather as well, and the right one hides some very cool features. Swiping motions on the right earcup very intuitively control volume, skipping and backtracking, and pause/play functions. I've read that some users don't like this, but in my limited time with them, I've very much enjoyed it. It's very natural, works consistently, and is just kind of a fun feeling. Additionally, one of my favorite initial features is that covering the right earcup with one hand lowers the music volume, and enhances the volume of your surroundings, which I could see being extremely useful in public, especially while traveling, such that you can still be keen on your surroundings and not miss any important announcements.

On the left earcup, there are three buttons, and an 1/8" auxiliary connector to run them wired. One button is labeled "Ambient Sound", and has two modes of operation. One is "Normal" which simply amplifies the sounds of your surroundings, which is in-and-of-itself a very interesting experience. The other is "Voice" which purposefully enhances voices, although I haven't had the opportunity yet to test just how well that particular mode works. Time will tell, I'm sure. The next button is labeled "NC" and toggles on and off the noise-cancelling function of these headphones. This works extremely well, noticeably better than my old Bose QC25s, although I don't have a pair of the QC35s to compare to, regrettably. This works great, nonetheless. The other is a power button which, when held at power-on, enables pairing mode. There is also, on the right earcup, a micro-USB charging port. I would have liked to see USB-C here, but it's adoption was not anything near "wide" when these headphones were released, to my knowledge.

I'll give more words to all of the features of this headphone in the full review, but for now, I'd like to get to sound. The sound seems fairly balanced, with bass having a noticeable emphasis, but with the mids still retaining a good deal of forwardness. The mids are somewhat lush and liquid, but still have acceptable detail. Treble extends well, allowing the headphones a fairly open and comfortable sound, certainly not veiled.

For a closed pair of headphones, I immediately noticed that the soundstage is pretty darn good. I'll give more words to that in the full review as well, as I haven't had enough time to comment further. Imaging and separation are good enough, but there is a noticeable cohesion between most elements of songs, which can be good or bad, depending on personal preference.

I'll spend much more time with these over the next few weeks, and come back with a more detailed and comprehensive review, although I'll admit that these impressions were longer than usual. Thus far, these are a very enjoyable pair, especially given their use-case. We'll see how they fare with time.